Yesterday, Wednesday 18 February 2009 I experienced a rare opportunity to watch a chef from the Lin Heung Tea House demonstrate three dishes i.e. Pork Cartilage in Special Sauce; Beancurd with Minced Pork and Black Olives; and Chicken with Preserved Black Beans. The cooking demonstration was held at the Towngas Cooking Centre in Causeway Bay.
Lin Heung Tea House, 160-164 Wellington Street, Central is a famous Hong Kong dim sum establishment that has withstood the test of time and is believed to be between 85-100 years old. Of all the tea houses that have existed throughout Hong Kong's history only two remain in operation today, namely the Lin Heung Tea House and the more up market Luk Yu Tea House.
There are plenty of websites that go into dim sum etiquette and descriptions about the Lin Heung Tea House but few if any other recipes on the internet from this tea house. The recipes provided by Towngas were very basic and lacked essential information but with excellent translation/s throughout the cooking demonstration, I was able to compose fairly detailed instructions for each dish.
Chicken with Preserved Black Beans
1 fresh chicken not previously chilled if possible cut into 2 cm pieces
3 cloves garlic minced
3 tael (80 gm) shallots (small brown ones)
2 tael (80 gm)
Enough red chili and green pepper for colour and according to taste (chopped)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
50 ml water
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
Drizzle of dark soy sauce for colour
A little salt
- Pat chicken pieces with cornstarch and toss well with fingers until well combined.
- Blanch the chicken in oil. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok, swirl oil around and then when hot add the chicken pieces. Continuously move the chicken around and up the sides of the wok using a medium heat (not high). Using a towel, hold the side of the wok handle, pick up the wok and swirl. You will notice that as the chicken blanches it starts to develop a golden crust. When blanched remove from wok.
- Sauté the shallot, garlic and preserved black bean, red chili and green pepper in the wok then add 50 ml water.
- Add chicken and fry well. Add a drizzle of dark soy for colour then add seasonings.
- Cook on low heat until the sauce is absorbed and the chicken dries out. Serve.
- Chop chicken using the saw cutting and push cutting technique so that you have approx. 2cm chicken pieces with bone in. The only bone you need to remove is the thigh bone. To do this slice along the leg bone then using the push cutting technique cut the bone nearest where the chicken’s foot would have been then pull the thigh bone out to remove.
- In a restaurant, the chef would blanch the chicken in quite a bit of oil but for home use only 3 tablespoons of oil is required. Note that it is important to continuously move the chicken around in the wok.
- Important to make the chicken dry with not much sauce so that the flavour is good.
- Whole chicken can be replaced with chicken breast.
- No need to cook with lid on wok.
- Add enough red chili and green pepper according to taste.
Beancurd with Minced Pork and Black Olives
1-2 packs silken tofu (tofu for steaming)
4 pieces preserved black olives cut roughly but not minced
6 tael (240 gm) raw minced pork blanched until cooked
3 cloves garlic minced
Approx. 2 small red chillies diced
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon cornstarch
- Open tofu packets and drain off liquid. Slice tofu and arrange on a plate or platter.
- Mix well oyster sauce, sugar and cornstarch. Stir in black olive, minced pork, garlic and chilli. Place the mixture on top of the tofu.
- Steam for 5 minutes, serve.
- Each packet of tofu was slightly bigger than a 250 ml rectangle tub of butter. Each packet of tofu when sliced thickly yielded 8 slices. Make sure that you drain the tofu really well before adding the seasoning, pork and olives to prevent the tofu becoming watery. If you sprinkle salt over the tofu when you remove it from the packaging water will seep out straight away and you can drain this off before continuing with the recipe.
- Olives are preserved and are not the western variety. Packets can be bought from Asian grocery stores or again from the
wet market/s. Hong Kong
- Unlike the pork cartilage, blanch the minced pork in hot water until cooked. The chef had already done this and had stored the very dry mince in a plastic container. Make sure that after you blanch the pork mince that you use a sieve to drain the meat until it becomes dry.
Pork Cartilage in Special Sauce
1 catty (600 gm) pork cartilage (ends of ribs are best as they contain nice fat, size of each piece was approx. 1.5 cm)
2 tael (40 gm) fresh ginger (optional) this is in addition to other spices below
1 x 450 ml bottle Amoy All Purpose Marinade
35 gm rock sugar (more if you are making your own marinade as the All Purpose Marinade is sweeter)
7-8 bay leaves (dried)
2 cardamom pods
5-6 licorice roots (slices dried)
4 spicy sand ginger (dried)
- Blanch pork cartilage until you can see all the scum/dirt coming off. Make sure that when you blanch the pork cartilage that you put it in the saucepan on the stove with cold water as this prevents the pork from cooking - as would be the case if you had blanched the pork in boiling water. Remove pork and drain.
- Place pork cartilage in a clay pot, pour in half the bottle (approx. 225ml) of the Marinade, add 350ml water, spices, ginger (optional) and rock sugar.
- Bring to boil then simmer on low heat with lid on for 1.5 hours then serve.
- The Amoy All Purpose Marinade is strong so it needs to be diluted with water.
- The special secret is to add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to the clay pot when the pork cartilage is simmering as this will speed up the cooking process and reduce the cooking time by approx. 30 minutes.
- When blanching the pork cartilage, put cold water in the saucepan, add the meat then bring to the boil or the meat will cook first if put into boiling water and become tough.
- Continue to check the pork as it is simmering; if the clay pot becomes dry add more water.
- To check tenderness, insert a chopstick into the pork and if it goes right through then it is tender and ready to be served.
- The pork cartilage can be replaced with chicken wings (no need to add vinegar as chicken cooks more quickly than pork).
- After you cook the pork cartilage you can keep the marinade and re-use it a few more times (similar to a master sauce/ lu stock).
- To make your own marinade for this recipe use a mixture of light and dark soy sauce with spices and sugar instead of using the All Purpose Marinade. Combine 100 ml normal soy sauce (light), 150 ml premium strong and sweet flavoured soy sauce, 200 ml water, approx. 35 gm rock sugar (more depending on taste), 4 teaspoon of caster sugar, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce and the spices listed above.
- If you have difficulty buying the spices for the marinade you should also be able to buy them already made up from the wet market (
) or Asian grocery stores. The “Marinade Stuff” I bought from Choi Hop Lee, Condiments and Asiatic Products, G/F 4 Bowrington Road Wanchai HK also included star anise, cassia bark, cloves, dried tangerine peel and white peppercorns in addition to bay leaves, cardamom pods, licorice root and sand ginger. Hong Kong
- Note that rock sugar and caster sugar have different flavours.
Photo of Spices - top left bowl contains blanched minced pork and the bottom left bowl contains the preserved olive. The loose spices are bay leaves, licorice root and dried sand ginger.
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